Benetton introduces RFID clothing tags globally
The global fashion manufacturer, Benetton, is to introduce item-level smart labels using radio frequency identification (RFID) technology. The tags, developed by Royal Philips Electronics, LAB ID, and Psion Teklogix, has been implemented throughout the entire range of Benetton's Sisley brand clothing.
Based on Philips' I.CODE semiconductor technology, the labels are part of a complete system solution by Italian system integrator, LAB ID, and are being used to track Benetton's garments throughout the company's entire supply chain.
As part of the initiative, all garment box shipments from United Colours of Benetton are also to be labelled with I.CODE-based smart tags, which are tracked using I.CODE-compatible readers (from LAB ID) and wireless LAN 'net-pads' (from Psion Teklogix).
"Benetton has thousands of retail outlets worldwide and therefore wanted to put in place a future-proof technology to bring cost benefits to the business while enabling garments to be tracked throughout their lifetime," said Terry Phipps, electronic data processing director for the Benetton Group.
"Over the last few years, RFID technology has been dramatically altering supply chain management in a diverse range of applications," said Scott McGregor, Chief Executive Officer at Philips Semiconductors. "Philips and LAB ID's work for Benetton, proves to the supply chain management community that RFID technology is now being used in large volumes for item tracking and is now reaching the end consumer.
Philips Semiconductors expects to ship some 15 million I.CODE chips to Benetton for the project during 2003, and claims that it will be the single biggest roll out of RFID technology in the fashion industry to date.
Manufacturing The tags, embedded in product labels, are incorporated into garments during the manufacturing process. They are imperceptible to the wearer, and remain in individual items of clothing throughout their lifetime.
The labels store information relating to the style, size, colour and intended destination of items, automating key aspects of Benetton's supply chain from manufacturing and distribution through to inventory control, throughout the company's 5,000 stores worldwide.
Distribution Box labels are used to track box shipments throughout Benetton's logistics process, enabling improved identification and item-to-box correlation, while optimising the timing of shipments and inventory control, and minimising distribution errors.
Inventory Smart labels overcome the limitations of traditional barcode technology which, for the fashion industry, is particularly important in terms of authentication and accurate inventory control.
The smart tags allow for an automated scanning process that does not require line of sight, and can scan multiple items at once. This means that a box containing a variety of garments in different styles, colours and sizes (which traditionally would have been unpacked and checked by hand) can be scanned in one go and the information uploaded directly into the company's computer system.
In-store In store, Benetton will use the RFID technology in 'smart shelves' and also in dressing rooms, to highlight the location of individual garments. The technology will also be employed at the point of sale, automatically registering sales and returns, and feeding information back into the company's ordering system to make sure that stock levels are replenished as necessary.
The tags store unique data about the authentication of goods, preventing counterfeiting and theft. They can be integrated into labels and tags which can be fitted to almost any item to allow asset tracking, and automatic data capture, providing a low-cost, reprogrammable solution for companies looking to implement an automated supply chain management system.